Mexican judge pulls Monsanto’s GMO soybeans permit to protect honey production, victory for beekeepers
Mexican beekeepers are celebrating a victory over biotech giant Monsanto after a judge in the state of Yucatán overturned a permit, which has halted the company’s ambitions to plant thousands of hectares of soybeans genetically modified to resist the company’s pesticide Roundup.
Evidence convinced judge of threat posed to honey production in Yucatán – but firm will almost certainly appeal against ruling. In his decision, the judge said he was convinced that there was enough scientific evidence to link GMO soybeans with the threats to bee populations, including the mysterious illness called colony collapse disorder.
According to the Guardian, the permit had originally allowed Monsanto to plant GMO soybeans in seven states on more than 625,000 acres of land even despite “protests from thousands of Mayan farmers and beekeepers, Greenpeace, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the National Institute of Ecology.” In the ruling, the judge noted that honey production and GMO soybeans cannot coexist in a sustainable fashion.
Mexico is the world’s six biggest producer and third largest exporter of honey. About 25,000 families on the Yucatán peninsula depend on honey production. This tropical region produces about 40% of the country’s honey, almost all of which is exported to the EU.
Contamination from GMO soybeans and other crops including corn, canola, sugar beets, cotton and alfalfa, could distress Mexico’s honey production. Honey that contains pollen from genetically modified crops faces the potential of being rejected by the EU ever since 2011 when the European court of justice put restrictions into place regarding GMO-contaminated honey.
“Honey with more than 0.9% of GM pollen (from an approved GM food) must be labelled as containing GM ingredients and cannot be marketed as an organic product. Some countries, including Germany, reject honey that contains any GM pollen,” explains the Guardian.
This is almost certainly only round one. Monsanto will probably appeal against the decision to a higher court. The North American Free Trade Agreement, criticized by some for crippling small-scale Mexican farming, is not on the side of the beekeepers.
This David and Goliath battle is about so much more than honey.